As is Christian's routine, he asked me to just ride as I normally would. Speedy, not his usual self, continued to scream and look frantically for Sydney. It was frustrating because he doesn't behave this way at home, and he certainly doesn't do that at shows. Christian's soft response was always, "no problem …" This is my favorite thing about riding with him; nothing the horse does bothers him. He simply takes what the horse offers and turns it into his idea.
Since Speedy wanted to be quite forward, Christian said to use it. Make going forward my idea. So we used the long sides pushing for more and more. As we circled at B/E, he had me flex Speedy to the inside while asking with my inside leg for him to step as deeply as possible. This is very hard work for the horse.
I swear, Christian laughed out loud. He was like a little kid at Christmas! He was that pleased that I got it on the first try. I heard comments from the auditors about when did I have time to practice. I later told them that I had done it while in bed the night before. Christian shared a very funny story about another woman having practiced switching hands with the whip while in bed. His punchline to the story was, "her poor husband!" He's quite the funny guy.
Just for good measure, he had me repeat the counter canter a few times, and then we moved on to something else. I was kind of disappointed as I wanted to practice a bit longer, but Christian is all about pushing his students to do more. I know he figured it was a waste of time to practice what I clearly already understood. I am glad we moved on because the next set of exercises really pushed me to the very edge of what I could do.
Sarah, of Eventing in Color, who was there to watch, later explained that on Sunday, he was finally able to really do riding lessons that were less about theory and more about challenging my skills. In particular, my control of the outside shoulder and haunches.
For the first real exercise, Christian instructed me to ride a 5-loop serpentine at the trot. I was ever so thankful to hear one of the auditors exclaim that this particular exercise is much harder than it looks. Thank you, kind lady. It was hard! What I most appreciated about Christian was that he didn't nitpick the unevenness of my serpentines. Of course they weren't all 12-meters apart, but at least I got 5 loops!
Once we were in the rhythm of that exercise, Christian threw a big monkey wrench at me. Instead of trotting the volte at B, he asked for a half circle left lead canter at B, walk at X, and pick up the right lead to do a circle at E. Sometimes he asked for half circles, sometimes full circles, but we always walked at X and changed leads.
The following photos are thanks to Sarah from Eventing in Color. Most of them show us struggling, but the last one is pretty nice. Thank you, Sarah!